Getting off the ground : launch of the new programmes

Gross, Tobias and Vironen, Heidi (2007) Getting off the ground : launch of the new programmes. In: 23rd IQ-Net Conference, 2007-11-14 - 2007-11-16.

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Abstract

The past six months have, in many ways, been a period of ‘getting off the ground’. The 2007-2013 programming period has gradually moved beyond the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) and programme negotiation stages, with many partners taking concrete steps towards launching the new programmes. In addition to these operational issues, more strategic debates have also surrounded the future of the Budget and Cohesion policy. All the NSRFs, and a large part of the Operational Programmes (OPs) have now been approved by the European Commission, with the remaining programmes expecting approval soon. Although some partners characterised the negotiations as long and extensive, they have generally been found to be constructive. In most cases, significant changes were rare, and strategic decisions were agreed at informal meetings prior to the official submission of the documents. The programmes have gradually moved towards their official launch. In many instances, this has involved the organisation of publicity campaigns to inform on the funding opportunities, and to generate projects as early as possible. Most partners did not progress with financial commitments at this stage, but are waiting until the OPs have become legally binding. Some have made informal commitments through so called ‘shadow rounds’ of funding before the formal programme adoption. However, even in those programmes which have already committed funds and where project generation activities are underway, first payments are generally not expected until the first half of 2008. In some instances, this has caused challenges in meeting the n+2 rule. Against the background of the launch activities, a number of specific challenges remain, particularly concerning the set-up of the new management and control system. An important, related task is the submission of the description of the system to the Commission within twelve months after programme approval. While the 2007-2013 programmes are dominating the agenda, programme managers and implementing agencies continue to implement the closure of the 2000-06 programmes. Recent challenges are mostly reported on the payment side, not least due to n+2. Hence, many managers are resorting to activities, such as increased monitoring and awareness-raising or reallocation of funds in order to increase financial absorption. Also, a key issue for many partners is dual management of the 2007-2013 and 2000-2006 programmes, which is causing workload and human resources concerns.